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Milestone of aircraft weather observations in Hong Kong
(7 August 2014)

Starting from July 2014, the Hong Kong Observatory (HKO) and Hong Kong Dragon Airlines Limited (Dragonair) join forces to collect more automatic meteorological data from commercial aircrafts (Figure 1). This data collection project is part of the World Meteorological Organization Aircraft Meteorological Data Relay (AMDAR) programme, which aims to enhance the global coverage of weather observations, contributing to more reliable weather forecasts. The AMDAR programme was implemented in Hong Kong since 2004 and Cathay Pacific Airways Limited is the first partner collaborating with the HKO in the programme.

In the past decade, aircrafts joining the AMDAR programme provided valuable meteorological data, including wind speed, wind direction and temperature collected during flight (Figure 2). Such information assisted weather forecasters to analyse weather situations more precisely, especially over regions such as the oceans where upper-air weather data are sparse. The AMDAR data is also exchanged internationally. It is an important data source to numerical weather prediction models and helps increase the accuracy of computer model outputs which in turn contributed to the improvement of weather forecasts.

Although globally a number of airlines have already participated AMDAR programme, the existing coverage of the programme still has room to expand further, especially over ocean regions (Figure 3). The participation of Dragonair marked a milestone of the Hong Kong AMDAR programme. Dragonair's Assistant General Manager (Flying), Captain Ross Taylor, said, "I am delighted to have Dragonair participating in the Hong Kong AMDAR programme. I believe our joint effort with the HKO in this area can contribute to global aviation safety and efficiency." Looking forward, the HKO will further promote the programme to obtain more aircraft weather observations in the region, so as to provide more effective weather services.
 

Figure 1 
Figure 1: The Senior Scientific Officer of the Hong Kong Observatory (HKO), Mr Choy Boon-leung (left), and the Scientific Officer of the HKO, Mr Shum Chi-tai (right), are pictured with the Assistant General Manager (Flying) of Hong Kong Dragon Airlines Limited, Captain Ross Taylor, in front of Dragonair Airbus A330, the first aircraft providing automatic weather observations.
 

Figure 2 
Figure 2: First weather observations received from an aircraft of Hong Kong Dragon Airlines Limited (July 17, 2014)
 

Figure 3 
Figure 3: Global Aircraft Meteorological Data Relay observations between 2pm and 8pm on August 6, 2014
 

Last revision date: <11 Aug 2014>